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The Columbia Guide to Irish American History (Columbia Guides to American History and Cultures)

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231120708
ISBN-10: 0231120702
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Editorial Reviews


If you want a heroic effort at encapsulating Irish American history, this is your book.

(Library Journal)

Anyone interested in the history of Irish America will welcome this book.

(Jay P. Dolan America)

For those interested in getting a broad overview of Irish American history, pop culture and sociology... an excellent read.

(Irish America Magazine)

The Columbia Guide to Irish American History is a 'must have' for any student, professional or lay person.

(James A. Cox Midwest Book Review)

Very well done...an excellent starting point for readers new to the topic.

(Agnes H. Widder American References Books Annual)

This book is indispensable for collections on Irish American history and politics... Essential.


A remarkable accomplishment, impressive in both the breadth and depth of its scholarship.

(Bill Mulligan H-Net)


Comprehensive in its coverage, and written in a clear and engaging style, this outstanding reference work will be of interest to both the professional scholar and the general reader. In its broad range of topics and the depth of its understanding, The Columbia Guide to Irish American History is an authoritative and indispensable resource for the study of a familiar but little known people who have been at the heart of the American narrative from its colonial inception to the present day.

(David Gerber, University of Buffalo, coeditor of American Immigration and Ethnicity: A Reader)

This indispensable guide―comprehensive, yet concise; scholarly, yet lively; erudite, yet accessible―will become the first stop for anyone seeking to learn about Irish America, its history, people, and culture. Tim Meagher has long been one of our most astute and subtle commentators on Irish-American history, and he brings his vast knowledge together in this extraordinary volume. Beginners will find it a delightful and invaluable introduction and specialists will treasure it as an essential reference.

(Roy Rosenzweig, George Mason University, coauthor of The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life)

Tim Meagher has done a superb job, picking and choosing wisely among the dense and tangled data and controversies concerning Irish American history, and has produced an indispensable guide and source book for students and scholars of the history of the Irish (both Catholics and Protestants) in America.

(Kerby Miller, University of Missouri, author of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America)

In this often lyrically written book, Timothy Meagher, tackles the big questions in Irish American history. He not only distills contemporary scholarship and points out disagreements between historians; he evaluates their ideas. The result is a work that challenges stereotypes and common assumptions. Readers will appreciate his straightforward descriptions of theories of ethnicity as well as his vivid reconstructions of how real people lived and worked. With its helpful bibliographic material, this is a 'must buy' for those interested in Ireland and the Irish in America.

(Colleen McDannell, Professor of History and Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies, University of Utah)

Product Details

  • Series: Columbia Guides to American History and Cultures
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (September 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231120702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231120708
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I came across this and snapped it up. As an obscure contributor to a forthcoming encyclopedic reference work on Irish America myself, I wanted to see what this well-known and respected historian, all by himself (except for one section), could produce. Since I come from literary/cultural studies, I was eager to find out how history was faring in the Irish American realm. This handy reference work, unlike many such creations, can be read at length as well as consulted quickly. It combines an historical overview with both brief encyclopedic entries and lengthier essays organized by time and by topic.

It's ambitious--part one surveys history in six chapters from the 17c to the present. Part two examines in topical chapters Gender & Family; Politics; Nationalism; Race. Part three gives extended entries, as a mini-encyclopedia--with the help of other contributors--of major people, organizations, and terms. A chronology takes up part four; an annotated bibliography that extensively breaks down into helpful sub-categories many books and a few articles and monographs on the Irish American experience ends this compact but sufficiently detailed compendium.

My review here cannot be comprehensive; like nearly any reader except for the author, I lack full knowledge of the many fields Meagher synthesizes. But a highlight for me was his extended consideration, in the "Race" section of part two, of the whiteness theory that has attracted exponents and detractors in the past fifteen or so years.
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Format: Hardcover
The Columbia Guide To Irish American History is a scholarly examination of the role of Irish Americans in shaping national history. Once perceived as a threat to mainstream society, Irish Americans gradually became an integral part of the American tapestry; over 40 million Americans claim Irish descent today. Author and associate professor of history Timothy J. Meagher examines records and testimonies of Irish Americans from their immigration to Colonial America to the era of the Great Potato Famine to the late twentieth century, and pays particular attention to Irish American participation in politics, as well as Irish American nationalism. Intended especially as a general introduction and a solid resource for novice to intermediate students of Irish American history, culture, and society, The Columbia Guide To Irish American History is a "must-have" for any student, professional or lay person seeking to better familiarize themselves with Irish American contributions to the nation.
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